Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk scored his sixth goal of the playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
May 19 (UPI) -- Matthew Tkachuk skated in and snapped a wrist shot into the net's top corner, leading the Florida Panthers past the Carolina Hurricanes and ending one of the longest games in NHL history.
Tkachuk's dramatic score came with just 13 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime of the 3-2 triumph Thursday at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. The 139-minute, 47-second game was the sixth-longest in league history.
The Panthers now lead the Eastern Conference finals 1-0.
"It was my favorite one so far in my life," Tkachuk told reporters, when asked about the goal. "It was big to not let it go to five overtimes. We got so many great contributions from everybody."
Panthers forwards Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each provided a goal and assist in the victory. Forward Anthony Duclair also picked up two assists for the Panthers. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 saves.
Hurricanes forward Seth Jarvis logged a goal and assist in the loss. Game 2 will be Saturday in Raleigh.
Jarvis beat Bobrovsky for the first goal of the night on a power play with 12 seconds left in the first period. They held that edge until Barkov beat Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen 15:28 into the second. Verhaeghe put the Panthers ahead with another goal less than three minutes later.
Jarvis and Martin Necas assisted forward Stefan Noesen for the final goal of regulation 3:47 into the third period, which resulted in overtime. Neither team could finish through the first three overtimes and for most of the fourth.
Tkachuk then played hero by beating Anderson for the final time.
The Hurricanes turned the puck over in their own zone to spark the sequence. Forward Sam Bennett recovered the puck and found Tkachuk. The Panthers star then skated in from the right side while covered by defenseman Brent Burns. Tkachuk slipped his stick behind Burns and sliced the puck over Andersen and into the net.
The top-seeded Hurricanes will host the wild card Panthers at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday in Raleigh. The winner of the best-of-seven game series will meet the top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights or No. 2 Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 1 of that series is Friday in Las Vegas.